Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blogging from A - Z 2011

So I swapped most of my reading challenges that I did in 2010 for writing challenges in 2011. I just found out about this challenge, and just in time.

You can read all about this challenge by pressing the picture above. It will take you to the link, however, here is a quick summary.

How does the Challenge work?

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays. In doing this you will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

One of the fellow participants posted some Great Tips about doing this challenge, I find they will be most helpful.

One of the tips is to chose a theme. Since my blog is primarily a themed blog anyway, there shouldn't be much of a problem. My theme will be books and movies.

Good Luck to all the participants.

A Round of Words in 80 Days – Round Two!

This is my first time doing ROW-80. It came to my attention through one of my blog friends.

Round Two: April 4 – June 23, 2011

I'm enrolled in some online writing classes at Writers Village University, so I am forced to write stuff every week anyway, but this gives me the push to do something other than my assignments every day.

This blog is not a dedicated writing blog. I do not feel I write regularly enough to warrant one, so my check-ins will be within this blog. I mainly keep this blog to books and movies so it kind of fits in.

If anyone is interested, the sign up linky is here. You can read the other participants goals for Round 2.

My Goals (subject to change)

Write at least 1,500 words per week.

Complete and polish 2 short-stories.

Start outlining novel.

Read a lot about the craft.

That will be it for now. I want to achieve my goals. But anything extra I do manage to do will be included in my check-ins.

One Possible Goal

I've been reading that blogging helps writers write better. I've been blogging for a long time, and occasionally I blog a thought provoking post (most of the time it is a lot of pulp). I blog regularly so consistency isn't the problem. However, I am going to attempt to do one thought provoking post per week. It will be either on reading or movies or maybe even writing. Let's see what the wind brings.


LOL! You know I am obsessed. Ronald Christopher Walken was born today March 31, 1943 in Astoria, Queens, New York. He is 68 years young today. Happy Birthday Mr. Walken and may you have a long(er) life. Chris' debut was in the movie The Anderson Tapes in 1971. In 1972's The Mind Snatchers was Walken's first starring role on the silver screen. However his first TV movie was in 1966 in Barefoot in Athens. We will soon see him on the big screen again in Kill the Irishman. The movie after that which I am very curious about is entitled Dead Man Walken, where he plays himself. Is it going to be like Being John Malkovich? We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nook & Kindle

So I broke down and purchased a Nook Color. My Kindle 2 is 2 years old and the joy stick is going, but it still works fine. I haven't downloaded that many books on it yet. My mother also bought a Nook Color, now at least I have someone to share books with. I have not decided which one I like better. As of now I like them both, although I am used to the Kindle. This doesn't make it better just more comfortable. But over time, I'm sure the Nook will become just as comfortable. One thing I like about my Kindle more is that it is 3G. The Nook Color only has Wi-Fi for now, but my mom said she heard it would get 3G by May. I do like to get books off of WhisperNet (Kindle). It kind of sucks to have to plug it into the computer to sync. But that is a small thing. Also I can now see how much bigger the Kindle 2 is from the Nook. But the Nook screen is bigger.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walken on Sunshine

The Prophecy - I saw this one years ago, but it was on TV so I watched it. It was good to recall what happened, so the 2nd movie would make sense. Gabriel is my favorite of the Arch-Angles and to have Walken play (her - Gabriel is a female), made me smile, even if he was evil.

The Prophecy 2

- Usually the sequel sucks, but this one was actually better than the first. A lot of stars were in this one. Jennifer Beals, Eric Roberts & Russel Wong. Gabriel was even nastier in this one.

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent - This one sucked. The actors were just awful, even worst than the actors in the first one. Walken was good, the little he was in it. He lost his dark evilness and adopted a long haired hippy look. He was on his way to redemption.

Excess Baggage

- A young woman fakes her kidnapping only to find herself actually kidnapped. It was a cute movie. Alicia Silverstone stars. Walken plays her uncle Ray, a smooth 'mob like' character.

Pennies from Heaven

- Walken was in this movie for about 5 minutes as a tap dancing pimp. Wonderful! The movie itself was cute. Steve Martin stars in this remake of a British series.

Sarah Plain and Tall: Skylark

- The 2nd installment of the Sarah Plain and Tall trilogy. It was fine, sad in parts.

Vendetta - Xenophobia rules in New Orleans in 1890. Everyone fears the Italians and a new organization they call the maFia (not the Mafia...maFia - emphasis on the Fia). Based on the largest lynching in American history. Disturbing and sad. Walken plays a real jerk in this one.

The Rundown - Walken and Dwayne Johnson in one movie. Have I died and gone to heaven? Action film, funny in parts. You will not be bored watching this.

Fade to Black

- After Orson Wells divorces Rita Hayworth, he goes to Italy to film a movie. There he becomes involved in a plot of murder and Communism. Walken plays Wells' friend who may or may not be on the up and up.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Short Story Writing 2011

I have written my first short story in two years. The last time I wrote a story was in March 2009. It is called "Vines". I recently re-read that story and cringed. The idea was good, the execution, not so good. I don't remember really editing it, so I'm sure I could get it to be much better.

The story I wrote this week is entitled "The House Began to Shake". It was for a WVU class. I have been up at nights trying to figure out what I'm going to write about. I started it and then changed my mind, I had a bad case of writer's block. But then I decided to just write and see what comes out. I'm not disappointed in it. I actually read it over and cried. I cried at my own story, good lord.

My mind is racing because I have been reading a lot about short story writing. It is such a different animal than novel writing. And to make matters worse, they want this story in 1st person. I'm not a 1st person writer, I can write in 1st person, although I prefer to write in 3rd person. This was tricky since the protagonist dies 2/3 of the way through the story, now how does one narrate dead? Think "The Lovely Bones".

I managed to get most of the adjectives and adverbs out. To my count there are only 2, they are both adverbs though, however, sometimes you just need that one to get your point across. I mean, when you are a sixteen year old girl, and you grab a huge man, you better grab him "gently".

I still have trouble with the "Show don't Tell" concept. I think most of the story is shown, except in part II where it gets a little narrat-y (made up word) in the first three paragraphs. I have until Tuesday to work this out.

The story limit is 2,500, I top out at the moment at around 1,600+. So I have some room to play with it.

I also am to write another short story starting next week for another class at WVU. I won't be up late at night thinking about this one as I already have this story mapped. Hopefully I can get it down on paper the way I see it in my mind. And then come the critiques, I'm sure they'll be brutal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Reading Thing - 2011

Being Hosted by Callapidder Days

Here’s a brief recap of how to be a part of Spring Reading Thing 2011:

Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this spring. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)

Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky (see host blog for link).

Get reading! The challenge goes from, March 20th, through June 20th.
Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!

Write a post about your challenge experience in June, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how Spring Reading Thing went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this spring (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.

1. Immigrants by Howard Fast
2. The Confession by Beverly Lewis
3. The Heart of Rachel by Kathleen Thompson Norris
4. Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Movies about Writers

I've often found that movies about writers are a crap shoot. Sometimes they are very good, but other times they are awful.

Today I watched Angel. In this adaptation of a novel by British author Elizabeth Taylor. A young woman named Angel has no other aspirations other than to be a successful and famous romance novelist. She succeeds and buys the mansion of her dreams and lives there happily for a short while. The Great War breaks out and things change. This is a true melodrama. It is also not very well acted, however, I thought the story itself was a really good one, I'm sure I would have enjoyed the book more. I give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

The lists below are movies I enjoyed or didn't enjoy about writers/poets. Some of them are biopics others are just fictitous stories about writers.

Movies about writers I enjoyed

Barton Fink
The Freedom Writers
The Squid and the Whale
The Hours
Sunset Boulevard
Shakespeare in Love
In a Lonely Place
Permanet Midnight (Liked the movie, hated the book)
Hannah and Her Sisters
Bright Star

Movies about writers I did NOT enjoy

My Brilliant Career
An Angel At My Table

As you can see, there are more that I liked than disliked, and many more I haven't had a chance to watch yet. Who would have thought there were so many. I'm sure I've left out a few.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Dancing Pimp

Why am I obssessed with Mr. Walken? Who wouldn't love a man like this?

This clip is from the 1981 movie "Pennies From Heaven" staring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. What you see here is Walken's entire part. But it is well worth the watch, the movie is pretty cute. It is based on an English TV program with the same name and same story line. I haven't seen the English version (staring Bob Hoskins) but this version is totally lip synced. If you like 1930 music and musicals you'll love this movie.

I did get to see the FATBOY SLIM video, but I am unable to embed it here. What a gem.

Walken will be 68 in a few days, I doubt he can move like this anymore, I'm glad we have some footage to look back on. Thank goodness for YOUTUBE.

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 things about books and you

Weekly Geeks

The idea is simple. Tell us ten things about you with regard to books and reading. Let your imagination run wild!

For instance: New or old? Hard back or soft? One or lots at a time? Bookmarks or not? What genres? What authors? Favorites? Habits? Stuff you like. Stuff that bugs you.

I think you get the idea. You don't necessarily need to use my thoughts above of course. Those are just to get you started. And when you are done, we should be able to get a nice big picture of your reading/bookish personality.

Have fun with this! Be creative! Then be sure to visit around to other participants to see how you compare to everyone else's bookish personalities.

Mark, get set, GO!

1. New or old? - I usually read new books, even the classics I have are new re-prints. However, I am not opposed to reading an older book. I have quite a few with ripped spines and yellow pages. Library sales are the greatest place for getting older books. But it is uneven.

2. One or lots at a time? - I'm a manic reader. Most of the time it is more than one.
They are usually different. Most of the time I read one fiction and one non-fiction

3. Classics or Contemporary? Both. I go into my phases. Sometimes all I want to read are classics, others more modern stuff. If I read through my spread sheet I'm pretty sure that I am an even split between those two.

4. What genres? - I read a lot of genres. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and in those genres I would read about health, metaphysics, nutrition, memoirs.... and as far as fiction, I read everything but Westerns (unless it is Stephen King), and Urban. I am reading my first Erotica book right now. It is an interesting genre. Of course I'm reading it from a writer stand point, so it is purley research!! :D

5. How many? - It has slowed. I was doing 1 a week at one point, but now it is more like 2 books every 15 days or so.

6. Books or e-reader? - Both! I can't afford to buy all the books I want, so I often borrow from the library. Some books I want in hard copy because I want my kids to read it or I want to own it.

7. Women or Men? I keep a spreadsheet, so looking back I tend to read more male authors, although a lot of them are repeat authors. I don't do it consciously, it is just the way the cards fell.

8. Just how often during the day do you read? - Not as much as I'd like. When I'm going to work or taking the subway/bus somewhere, I read on those. When I'm home, I usually don't read much. Before bed I do, if I'm doing my laundry I do. When I'm home I tend to watch a lot of movies, write, or practice my guitar. Being home tends to lessen my reading.

9. Research or blind? Most of the time, I research the books I want to read. I'm not talking indepth research, just maybe reading some reviews will help me make up my mind.

10. Do you use the Library? - Again, not as much as I used to. When I was working full time, I was in the library 2 or 3 times a week, the people know my name and library card number. They'd just go pull them off of the shelf before I got to the counter. But I still do use it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1000 books the sequal

I was thinking about the 1000 Books post I made on Friday and the books that were mentioned in that cloud. I went through the list again and realized that I have read all but a few of the 24 books I mentioned in the other post. The rest of them I read in the past six years. Now I thought that was interesting. Most of the books I did read from the list were due to suggestions from other websites or people. But what did I really think of them? Sometimes I read books because people go on and on and on about them, so I have to see what all the fuss is. Sometimes I'm disappointed.

I'll start with the few I read years ago.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
One of the bigger books I read up until that time. I was about 26. My first Russian author. I remember liking it, I thought it was a challenging read. What I remember most about it was a wise remark someone said. One of my bosses at the time (male) remarked to my other boss (female) - "Did you know that Liz was reading Anna Karenina?" My female boss "Yeah, so?" my male boss, "That is amazing, I can't believe someone like her is reading that." My female boss looked at him like he was insane. A person like me? WTF is that supposed to me...young, black, female? People are so stupid.

The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
I think every depressed person has read this book. Poor Sylvia...I know, it is just 'based' on real events.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
I actually read this trilogy plus other Buck Books. She is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she writes.

The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) by JRR Token
I read all three when the first movie came out. This was my precursor to my new reading life. I loved this series.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy
This is was at the urgng of a friend, she told me it was rip-roaring funny. Well, it was good, sort of funny. I guess we all have different tastes.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I read this during the whole craze. It was a pretty good book. Nothing to brag about.

The rest of the list, I read within the past six years.

Life of Pi by Yan Martel
Very nice story, nicely told, food for thought.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I enjoyed this one and the ending I did not see coming. I think getting trough some classics can be drudgery, but this one wasn't.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Nice fantasy, different from other stuff I've read.

The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
These were 2 pretty big books, with some hard language, but it didn't take me long to read. I was determined. I read them back to back as well. They were interesting. I have Anthem in my Kindle. I'll be reading that soon.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I saw the movie first, shortly before I read the book. It was interesting to see the differences. I really liked this book.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This was supposed to be a dark comedy, but I didn't get it. Perhaps it went over my head.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Yeah, another one I didn't care for.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I liked the movie much better. This book was tiresome.

Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Really, do I have to say it? AWESOME!

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I didn't think I'd enjoy this, but I did. I just like Dickens, I'll read anything he wrote.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I actually only read 4 of the 7 books, but heck, we know they are all good.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
I thought this to be a clever book. I like the fact that it was first person in the voice of an autistic man.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Yes I read this a few years ago for the first time. I know, I know. I love this book. Very meaningful to me.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
One day during the month of October I felt like reading it, so I did. I liked it. I'd put it in the top 20 of my favorite reads.

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splended Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Read in order. Both of these books blew my mind.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writers Village University

I found a cool site for writers.

Writers Village University. This is an on-line course site that offers classes on writing. You can find courses in fiction (short story, novel...etc), non-fiction, poetry, etc. They even have MFA courses. It is $69 a year ($99 the first year because of the one $30 fee). I am taking a few courses at the moment and they are very helpful. Some of them are peer-facilitated, while others have a facilitator.

There is a free site that is associated with it called F2K Social. I have not joined that, but what I hear from others is that it is a good stepping stone before you sign up for WVU. It seems to be run differently, but it is still a good chance to see what it is about before commiting.

I haven't written for an on-line writing site in a while, but my first partial story was pretty bad. It was about 4 guys in the 1920s playing poker in a seedy, smoke filled bar. OK, I didn't pick the topic, it was given to me, I just picked the era and the place. What do I know about Poker? or the 1920s for that matter.

Hickey stood and pulled his piece from his waistband. “You wanna rephrase that last comment?” His gap toothed smile and tick gave way to a stone face and steady hand.

That's right, I have a character named Hickey!! What of it? LOL!

The course is loads of fun, it is having me write things I would not normally write. I mean really...

Also I found a very good Readability Calculator on line. I like this one because it is indepth. However, if you are trying to achieve a certain type of lingo, it kind of reads it as poor English, so take it with a grain of salt.

Friday, March 18, 2011

1000 books (little ranty)

I was surfing around and came across an article that talked about Choosing 1000 novels to read before you die. And the first paragraph says:

So let's say one: reading one novel per month definitely sounds like a manageable project. If over the course of an entire year you read one novel a month, I'd guess that you could probably fit in one extra as well (perhaps during the summer holidays). Embark on this 13-novels-per-year schedule when you're eight (with, say, Asterix the Gaul or Black Beauty) and stick to it until you're 85 (finishing perhaps with Tolstoy's War and Peace or Thomas Bernhard's Extinction), you'd have read a thousand novels in a lifetime. Easy, isn't it?

Now I think some of us are probably way past the 1,000 books in our lifetime mark and we're not even 50 yet. I'm not one of them. I think I may be in the area of 500 so far. This includes novels I read as a teenager (yes I count Judy Blume). Most of my reading has happened within the last 6 years. I am reading between 50 - 80 books a year. Therefore I should reach the 1,000 books in 10 years if I read only 50 a year, which is not my goal, it is more like 75 a year.

But I suppose we are more prolific.

Now of course, I'm not talking about the chunky monkey's like "War and Peace" or "Crime and Punishment". That may take 1 month to read, but an average 300 or 400 page book would take me 10 days at the most, and this is when I'm slacking off or are feeling unmotivated.

But in looking at the cloud (based on the UKs most borrowed library books) -

I can honestly say I've read 26 of them, I did a quick count, and got 108 books listed (more or less). And 20 of them are on my book-shelf in my TBR pile. And there are a few that I do not own, but still want to read. And the most borrowed book, is also my favorite "To Kill a Mockingbird". I wonder how Ms. Lee feels about that? Although I suspect it is borrowed for High School reading, as it seems to be a requirment here in the states in either 8th or 9th grade.

I don't care what the purists say, I think e-readers are a great thing. I see more people reading on their e-readers than I had ever seen a person read a paper book.

Once I was on the subway reading one of the Ayn Rand books (Fountainhead or Atlas, I can't remember) but a young, professional white man was sitting next to me, his friend, another young, professional white man was sitting across from him. I pulled out my book and started reading. He remarked to his friend, "A Book? Man, I haven't read a book in years."


He probably makes between $80K and $100K a year. I can only cringe.

What happens to our youth between High School and Graduate School? My son used to read (for pleasure) up until 8th grade. Once he entered HS, that went out the door. He had to read for school, and most of the stuff was something most teenagers are not interested in. Some of the better things he had to read were "To Kill a Mockingbird", "The Raven", "Game of Thrones", "The Road" and "A Christmas Carol". Before HS he was reading stuff like "Harry Potter", the Star Trek and the Star Wars series. Now that he is in college, he has to read required stuff. When he is home in the summer he doesn't even look at a book. I have a feeling his reading days are behind him. Not that I can say much. From the ages of 14 until 20, I barley read a cereal box. And then I slacked off again from ages 24 to 35 and when I did read it was non-fiction.

Anyway, I digress. I'm hoping to read my 1,000th book in my 50th year. That will be 2017. And I hope to at least have read the 20 or so TBRs that are on my shelf from the list above, that does include the chunky monkey's.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Walken Again!

Sarah Plain and Tall (1991)

I taped this during Thanksgiving 2010. I never got to watch it. During my search for Walken movies, I discovered that he was in this one. That man has got to be in every movie ever made. So of course I watched it. He starred with Glenn Close. It was pretty much what I expected for a TV movie, the acting was fine, just kind of sappy. During the commercials I learned that this is actually a trilogy. I thought I got all the movies, because I also taped "Sarah Plain and Tall: Winter's End", but it turns out that is the third part. I was bummed to learn I neglected to tape "Skylark" or "Sarah Plain and Tall: Skylark". My library didn't have it, Netflix didn't have it, so I thought I was out of luck until next Thanksgiving. But of course, I have the luck of the Irish. "Skylark" will be on March 23rd. So I'm holding off on watching "Winter's End" until I see it. It will make more sense that way.

Man on Fire (2004)

Don't you hate it when you know you've seen a movie, but cannot remember anything about it. I know I saw this because I watch every movie Denzel is in. I couldn't remember Walken or Rourke being in this film for anything. So I watched it again. It slowly came back to me, but most of it, I do not remember. I won't be forgetting now. It was OK, very violent, I'm not too much into violence on screen, but I forced myself to watch it because...well...Walken.

The King of New York (1990)

So one year Walken is playing this tough NY drug lord and the next he is a farmer with baggy over-alls on. You gotta love it. I had never seen this movie. I know I said I don't like to watch violence on the screen, but sometimes I will make an exception. Especially when someone as cool as Walken is doing the killing. You couldn't help but to cheer for him, even though he was a ruthless cad.

Gigli (2003)

Remember ths one? The worst movie ever made (I still think Plan 9 From Outter Space is the worst but whatever). It starred J-Lo and Ben Afleck. I didn't think it was all that bad. It wasn't the best film I've ever seen, but it definetly wasn't the worst. Two thugs (one male one female) kidnap an autistic young man for their boss. I thought it was a cute movie. Walken was in it for a hot minute, but what a minute.

"You know what I'd love to do, right now? Go down to Marie Callender's and get me a bowl of pies, some ice cream on it, mmm hmm good. Put some on your head, your tongue would slap your brains out trying to get to it! Interested? SURE?"

This line makes absolutley no sense, but MY GOD, it is brilliant! And with that perfect Walken delivery...loud, obnoxious, absurd, ridiculous, clipped and crazy-eyed.

Yes I did watch other movies this week, one that was pretty good was:

The Next Three Days (2010)

Starring Russel Crowe as a husband who will go to any length to get his wife out of jail. Accused of murder, Lara spends years in jail while her husband, John works to get her out the legal way. Obviously it doesn't work. He resorts to some seedy and questionable methods. Does his plan work? Did she commit murder? Well you have to watch the movie to find out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My first naughty read and what to do with my kid.

I am reading my first "dirty book". I am almost 44 years old and have never read any erotica. It is just not something you leave around the house or read on a crowded subway, however, since the advent of the e-reader, I can actually read one and no one will know.

I am reading Copping to it (Red Hot Cops Series) by Ava Meyers. I think it is more a novella than a full blown book and it was 99 cents on Amazon. I'm about 20% through and it is pretty racy. It is an interesting genre mainly because the writer really has to have good descriptive language.

* * *

I've been trying to get my daughter to read more. I bought her the Twilight series which she said she read, but I never saw her read. She doesn't like Harry Potter, Narnia, Golden Compass, Wrinkle in Time or Judy Blume.

I myself was not a big reader at her age, but I did discover Judy Blume and that sent me reading. I was less inclined to read when I entered high school. Her therapist gave her an assignment. He wants her to read the first 75 pages of a book, and report back to him next week. I offered up some of the books above, and then I recall she wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird. When I brought it up she got angry and was very stubborn. Man, she said reading is boring, and that she cannot find anything she likes and she tries to read, but doesn't finish because the book is boring. I have no ideas what to have her read. She liked one book, My Life in Pink and Green. Other than that, she's not liked or really read anything. I don't want to force her, but I do feel she can benefit from reading and even her therapist said it would help her a great deal. She is smart, but lazy. She actually said "Why should I read when I can watch the movie." *shudder*

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is my daughters 12th birthday. 2 of her friends came over after school and we had a cake. I took her out to TGIFriday's on Sunday and I bought her gifts on Saturday.

Now she is looking foward to next year when she will officially be a TEENAGER!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Reviews

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos
240 Pages

Mikalatos writes this in first person. He takes us through his world of Imaginary Jesuses. We first meet him and his traditional imaginary Jesus, the one with blue eyes and long blonde hair, but we quickly see that our view of Jesus is not traditional through the eyes of others, but rather we imagine Jesus the way we need him to be.

Mikalatos runs into the Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses, and is quickly overwhelmed with a bevvy of Jesuses for every occation and every individual.

This is mainly a book about searching for the true God, but it has a humorous slant. My favorite part is when Mikalatos meets the Mormons Elder Laurel and Elder Hardy (yes that's right Laurel and Hardy), and their conversations are laugh out loud funny.

Interesting enough to keep your attention but not offensive to turn a Christian off.

4 out of 5 stars
Accidental Genius by Mark Levy
Audiobook narrated by Bronson Pinchot
Unabridged 4+hours

In this book, Mark Levy talks about how free writing can help generate ideas. This is not just a guide for writers, it is a guide for anyone who needs to generate new ideas, whether it be in business or life.

Throughout the 29 chapters, Levy gives insight as to how the process works. He gives examples and prompts and shows why it works. At the end of each chapter he suggests an excersise.

Free Writing can be a useful tool, especially when we are stuck.

One prompt that stuck with me, that I've used several time now is:

The night smelled like...

This book is narrated by the smooth voice of actor Bronson Pinchot. I cannot tell you how important it is to have a good narrator for an audiobook.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

Poke the Box is a manifesto by bestselling author Seth Godin that just might make you uncomfortable. It’s a call to action about the initiative you’re taking-– in your job or in your life. Godin knows that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative in most organizations (and most careers)-– the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.”

Poke the Box just may be the kick in the pants you need to shake up your life.

I am reading all kinds of stuff to get my life in gear. Maybe it is a mid-life crisis, but I feel stuck. Poke the Box is an interesting quick read. It gives ideas on how to stir things up in your life for your benefit. Many of us sit around and wait for things to happen to us, we haven't learned that we happen to life.

It reads mostly as an instruction manual for those in the business world, but it can be applied to all sections of life. I think this is a great book for writers as well.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

E-book reading challenge stats:
6 out of 20 e-books read this year

1.The Given Day - Dennis Lehane
2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
3. Heaven is for Real
4. Macrobiotics for Dummies - Verne Verona
5. The Shunning ( (Heritage of Lancaster County #1)-Beverly Lewis
6. Poke The Box by Seth Godin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday - Lent Day 1

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics. The ashes we receive on our forehead in the shape of a cross serve as an outward sign of our sinfulness and need for penance. The ashes also symbolize our mortality, a reminder that one day we will die and our bodies will return to dust. Hence the traditional words,"Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return".

Ash Wednesday is also a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. According to Church law, Catholics older than the age of 14 are supposed to abstain from meat. In addition, those between the ages of 18 and 59, not including pregnant or nursing mothers, should eat only one full meal. Smaller amounts of food (not as much as a full meal) may be eaten in the morning and either at lunchtime or dinner, depending on when you eat your full meal.

I woke up early and went to 7am mass. I'm not used to silent masses as I am in the choir. I got my ashes, but instead of a dainty cross, I got a big blotch in the middle of my head, so now everyone is looking at me like I forgot to wash my face.

The meal thing is not a problem for me as I eat mostly vegetarian, and some fish. So for dinner tonight, we are having salmon. For the next 5 weeks, Friday night will be Pizza night for my daughter, I don't eat pizza. This Friday is our girl's night out. We are going to BBQs, so I have to find something fish and no drinking. Not that I gave that up for Lent, I don't drink much anyway, and I found out that liquor increases my inflammation, so I'll have a soda or a virgin drink.

What am I giving up for Lent? Over the past few years I have tried to give up something difficult. In the past I've given up: Anger, Gossip. Gossip is the harder of the two. This year, I think it will be anger again. I don't get angry often, and I've gotten better over the years, but I think it is worth making the extra effort during Lent.

What I like about Lent most of all is the music we sing in Church. We sing a lot of Latin. Most of my favorite church songs are sung during Lent:

- O Mysterium Ineffabile
- Panis Angelicus
- Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart & Elgar's version)
- Recusito (He has risen) (Good Friday)
- The Seven Last Words (Good Friday)
- Hallelujah Chorus (Easter vigil / Easter Sunday)

Stuff not sang during Lent.
- Alleluia
- Gloria

(Which if anyone is interested is changing starting in September. They changed the words and music to the Gloria and Lamb of be prepared.)

Lent is a very solemn time in the church, but also the most beautiful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Walken...MORE Walken, I need MORE WALKEN

Eight out of the ten movies I've watched so far this month have had Christopher Walken in them, Yeah, I got it bad. LOL! It is only March 8th.

The Affair of the Necklace (2001)
When she and her family have their royal titles stripped by the crown, 18th-century French countess Jeanne de la Motte Valois schemes with her lover, her husband and a mysterious Italian count to obtain a diamond necklace worth millions.

Walken is the mysterious Italian count. He was decked out in eccentric clothes and even a more eccentric accent. His role in this movie was minor. Also starring Hilary Swank and Adrien Brody.

New Rose Hotel (1998)
Two old-school crooks, Fox and X, try to engineer the score of their lives -- a con worth $100 million. The assignment? To train a beautiful young girl to seduce and induce a radical Japanese geneticist to spill his scientific secrets.

I only watched this because Walken was in it. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen. It also starred Willem DaFoe, and you would think with these two excellent actors, this movie would be stellar, but it just wasn't.

Suicide Kings

Last Embrace (1979)
After helplessly witnessing his wife's cold-blooded murder, emotionally devastated government intelligence officer Harry attempts to piece his life back together while suspecting that his own agency may be trying to kill him.

Walken was in this for about a minute, but he was young. Starring Roy Schneider, it was a decent movie. It looks like it was made for TV.

Last Man Standing

Brainstorm (1983)
Mike Brace is a technological genius who's created a device that can record and play back human thought. But the military catches wind and emerges as an unwanted 'silent partner' in his project. Soon, Mike and his wife are thrust into a breathless, non-stop race to prevent the machine from falling into the wrong hands and becoming the ultimate government weapon in this touching, thought-provoking thriller.

Walken and Natalie Wood (her last role) star in this Sci-Fi drama from the 80s. If you don't like 80s Sci-Fi, you aren't going to like this. I thought the main stars did a good acting job, the other actors, not so much.

Lots of young tasty Walken to behold.

Mouse Hunt (1997)
Two down-on-their-luck brothers inherit a run-down mansion that turns out to be worth millions. They can sell it and pocket a fortune, but first they have to evict its diminutive tenant: a mouse with no intention of leaving.

Caught this on TV. Walken has a cameo in this as a crazy exterminator.

The month is not over and I have several more Christopher Walken movies to watch. I do think I'll be done with much of his stuff by the end of this month.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Award

I got an award from Wendy at Wall-to-Wall-Books
. Thank you for thinking of me today!

I'd like to pass this award on to:
The True Book Addict. She has great reviews and does awesome challenges.

Last Man Standing - Film review across time and space

A 1920 era movie made in the 1990s, based on a Japanese samurai movie from the 1960s that was based on American western movies of the that?

Starring Bruce Willis as John Smith, a drifter making his way through a Texas town. On his route he finds rival gangs. Italians and Irish gangs with sharp suits and Tommy guns battle each other during 1920s prohibition America.

Christopher Walken plays Hickey, the Irish gangs right hand man. The best at what he does. Seems Hickey and Smith have a strange mutual respect for each other.

But Smith isn't making a home with either gang, he's playing both sides and getting pretty rich in the process.

Although this movie doesn't have much of a score, the little bit of music that you do hear is distinctly Kurisawa-film sounding.

As I was watching this, I thought this story was pretty familiar. So I looked it up and found that it was based on the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film, Yojimbo starring Toshirō Mifune.

In Yojimbo, a ronin arrives in a small town where competing crime lords make their money from gambling.

Obviously in the original film there are samurai sword instead of a Tommy gun, and a lot of honor and of course, no sex (some saki though).

Out of these two films, I enjoyed Yojimbo much more. I felt it had a little more class and a lot more style.

The only reason I watched "Last Man Standing" was because Walken was in it. It was an OK film, but as far as art or a film that will stick with you, it didn't work.

Yojimbo, although the same movie, is a much better film.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reading Religions Challenge

I will be doing the Reading Religions Challenge with Wendy.
Read 10 (or more) books, each having to do with a different religion (or cult)
for ex.
book 1 = buddihst
book 2 = christian
book 3 = catholic
book 4 = quaker

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo (Christian)
The Shunning (Heritage of Lancaster County #1) by Beverly Lewis (Amish)

Friday, March 4, 2011

GUSH Time - My new favorite movie and some great reads

Suicide Kings (1997)
American neo-noir/comedy-drama film, starring Christopher Walken, Denis Leary, Sean Patrick Flanery, Johnny Galecki, Jay Mohr, Jeremy Sisto, and Henry Thomas. It was based on Don Stanford's short story, The Hostage, and directed by Peter O'Fallon.

I hate when I've been under a rock. I've seen this movie listed on Netflix and IMDB, but never paid it any mind. I like Christopher Walken but it didn't seem like something I could get in to. And the term neo-noir ??? I like film-noir but wasn't sure if I'd like neo-noir.

Of course I thought this movie was brilliant, and I'm probably the last person on earth who hadn't seen it. But it has now become one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time.

The Plot in a short form from Wikipedia:
Moving in a non-linear fashion, the movie follows the exploits of a group of young 20-something rich kids who are plotting a kidnapping in order to save the sister of one of the friends.

Scottish-German Walken plays an awesome Italian ex-mobster named Charlie Bartolucci who these idiots have the nerve to kidnap and mame!!

What I liked about this movie was the psychological mind-games Charlie played on these young men. Who can you trust? Who should you trust?

The other actors were amazing. Jeremy Sisto, Denis Leary and Johnny Galecki were the three (other than Walken) who stole the show.

I'm usually not one to gush too much about movies, but I loved this one. So if you are one of the few people (like me) who have not seen this, I recommend this highly. How highly? I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (1977)

This book questions the reader's view of reality, proposing that what we call reality is merely an illusion we create for learning and enjoyment.

I read his 1st book "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" many years ago. I thought it was quaint, but it didn't rock my world. I was surfing around one day and found this listed somewhere and read the synopsis and thought it might be worth the effort. I ordered it from my local library. I was done in 1 hour (191 pages). I loved it!

Synopsis from Wikipedia:
Donald Shimoda is one of the two main characters in Illusions. He is a messiah who leaves his job of being a messiah (and also of being a mechanic at a garage) after deciding that people value the showbiz-like performance of miracles and want to be entertained by those miracles more than to understand the message behind them. He meets Richard, a fellow barn-storming pilot and begins to pass on his knowledge to him, even teaching Richard to perform "miracles" of his own.

OK so it sounds way out there, but it is actually very good and thought provoking. Not a hard read, not cerebral at all. Written in plain every day language with plain every day imagery. I recommend. 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos (2010)

I got this book the other day for my Kindle for free from Amazon, but now it costs.

I'm a few chapters in and OMG, this book is hilarious.

From Amazon:
The Apostle Peter punches Jesus in the face, then chases him out of a coffee shop. And that's just chapter 0.

OK so now, what do you think this book will be like? People on the train must think I'm nuts cracking up to myself. I love books that take religious subjects/figures and make them into laugh out loud stories. We all need a good laugh.

I've only read two other books that did this, one was a fiction story the other a memoir. Both were great, I recommend both:

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ereader Sites

I have shared in the past free ebook sites other than If you missed that post the links are HERE.

Today as I was surfing aimlessly, I came across two sites e-reader people might find of interest.
This site has daily news on free ebooks as well as other books (reduced or otherwise). I will say this deals with Kindle devices only.
This site has free ebooks, reduced ebooks for all e-readers. There is a trick to getting it off of your computer (that is where smashowords will put it), and you will have to know how to do this for your particular reader, but once you learn, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reviews (Books and Movies)

Macrobiotics for Dummies by Verne Verona

I love Dummies and Idiot books. Especially when I know very little about a subject. For those who don't know, Macrobiotics is a lifestyle, some people think it is just a way of eating, but this book goes into depth on how it is more than eating. It is how to keep your home, how to live your life and just basically the holistic approach to the Macrobiotic lifestyle. I found it very interesting. I have started eating Macrobiotic 80% of the time, the lifestyle change is a little harder, but I'm trying. It is a great book to start off with. Not a book for those who have already the basics down.

The Shunning (Heritage of Lancaster County #1) by Bevery Lewis

Downloaded this a while back, it was a freebie. Learned it was coming on TV in the spring, so I wanted to at least read the first part. Set in Amish Country, young Katie Lapp is about to be married to the local Bishop, however, things aren't what they seem. Katie finds out things about herself, and it changes the course of her life. The end of the book had an interesting cliff hanger, which caused me to purchase the 2nd part, and of course then I'll have to purchase the 3rd part.

I've been watching a lot of Christopher Walken movies. I'm a big fan, but he has so many movies, I cannot keep up. So I decided to just buckle down and watch some. Here are his movies that I watched in February. I'm still working on more for March.

Who Am I This Time? (1982)
In this hour-long film by Jonathan Demme, Walken plays a very very shy hardware store clerk who signs on with a local drama troupe in order to overcome his shyness. Susan Sarandon co-stars as his love interest. Most people are not familiar with anything Walken has done before the age of 45, but in this early movie he shines, he's different than what we know him to be. He is downright brilliant. This is my new favorite movie that he stars in. He was about 38 in this, but he still has his boyish face. 5 stars.

The Sentinel (1977)
Starring an even younger Walken. Here he doesn't say much, maybe a total of 10 words in the whole movie, but who cares...he is yummy in this one, eye candy deluxe. Oh yeah, it is a horror movie about a young unmarried model who moves into a posh Brooklyn apartment building and experiences some interesting paranormal phenomena.

The Funeral (1996)
Now this is the Walken we all know and love. Here he is who we know him to be. Also starring Chris Penn, Isabella Rossellini and Anabella Sciorra. At the funeral of their brother, the two living brothers deal with past hurts and present dangers as they look for their brothers killer.

The Maiden Heist (2009)
What a delightful film. Starring Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy. A fantastic comedy that deals with 3 security guards who have fallen in love with several pieces in the museum they work in. When the news that the pieces will be moved to a Denmark museum, these 3 devise a plan to save their beloved pieces. Who thought of putting these 3 men together in a comedy? I don't know, but great job. The chemistry was amazing. 4.5 stars.

Nick of Time (1999)
Also starring Johnny Depp, Walken is a crooked law enforcement officer who wrangles Depp into doing a criminal activity that would cause political upheaval.

Homeboy (1988)
Also starring Mickey Rourke. Mickey is an over the hill boxer named Johnny Walker who gets involved with a con artist named Wesley, played admirably by Walken. Wesley befriends Johnny but has ulterior motives. He wants Johnny to help him with a jewelry heist. While this friendship develops, Johnny falls in love with an owner of a local carnival.

Around the Bend (2004)
Also starring Michael Caine. Four generation of men come together to help heal the past. Walken plays Grandpa Turner (Caine is great grandpa Henry). After Henry dies the remaining 3 embark on a road trip that answers a lot of questions and bring forgiveness. I cried at the end of this one. 4 stars.

$5 a Day (2008)
The conservative son of a thrifty conman begrudgingly joins his father on the road --after being released from jail for one of his dad's earlier crimes. Strangely similar to "Around the Bend" in the fact that there is a father/son forgiveness thing happening and a road trip as well as the ending which is scarily similar. But I did enjoy this one. Walken acts more like himself in this one. He's even from Queens in the movie (art imitates life). 4 stars.

And just because he is beautiful (I think he still is):